By Jay Privman DRF.com
CYPRESS, Calif. – Trainer Art Sherman stood in the stands at Los Alamitos on Saturday morning, a few minutes before California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) was to come on the track and work in preparation for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. This was to be the longest and most important of the four works he will have prior to the race, and Sherman was anxious that it would go as planned.
He turned to a visitor and said he had told jockey Victor Espinoza to go six furlongs in about “1:12 and 2,” and then gallop out seven-eighths.
“This is a key work for him,” Sherman said.
Minutes later, California Chrome and Espinoza nearly mimicked exactly what Sherman desired. California Chrome worked six furlongs in 1:12.20, then continued out seven furlongs in 1:25.80, according to Los Alamitos head clocker Russell Hudak.
It was, as Sherman summed up succinctly, “perfect.”
“The horse is doing super,” Sherman said. “It seems like he’s been training forwardly.”
Saturday’s work was the third of four Sherman planned for California Chrome between his comeback race last month in the Pennsylvania Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, now just two weeks away. He will work again next Saturday at Los Alamitos, then head over to Santa Anita, where he will gallop and school in the paddock and at the gate. But all his serious training will be done here.
On Saturday, California Chrome came on the track after the midmorning renovation break, with the track closed briefly so he could have the track to himself. In a change from his prior two works, he backtracked with the pony around the far turn, down the backstretch, and around the clubhouse turn instead of going straight off down the homestretch from the access chute near the quarter pole.
“This way, he’ll have a little more warm-up before he breaks off,” said Alan Sherman, Art’s son and assistant trainer.
California Chrome turned around at the finish line, galloped briefly with the pony, then was turned loose near the seven-furlong pole. By the time he got to the six-furlong pole, he was rolling along, but he relaxed for Espinoza and settled into a nice, sensible clip.
California Chrome picked up the pace on the far turn, then cruised down the stretch with Espinoza remaining motionless. California Chrome appeared a bit bored near the end of the work, as if waiting for competition, but he went out nicely around the clubhouse turn, giving every indication that he is coming into the Classic well.
Pre-entries for the Classic and the other 12 Breeders’ Cup races are due Monday. They will be announced Wednesday. A maximum of 14 can run in the Classic, with final entries Oct. 27.